A poem about the complicated world of helping people (as a volunteer) and how one can struggle with emotions as you enjoy your time, but also questioning whether you came with the right intentions and or if your actions do more harm than good. I also touch on the constant depression (trauma) and hopelessness that is present underneath the surface for the people you are working with, even if they seem content or happy.


One of the best times of my life

and the worst of theirs

the time not in their possession even

lost in the wind that blew

turned everything upside down

they smiled while I shed tears

orange vests in numbers

some sought that thrill

an adventure or a trip

how lucky we are

just purchase your wings

ability to fly

identity unknown

fill in some papers to prove you are alive

do they not exist?

behind the label there is nothing of the sort

came along for the ride

said goodbye, but not really

stuck between worlds

I do not understand

stuck between words

nothing I can say

yet there we all are

speaking a language we know

is it enough?

the future tells a story of the past

good intentions do not predict

a positive outcome for you perhaps

who did you come here for? photographs

you go home richer questioning why

there is power in gratitude

some of the best times of whose lives

mine, ours, yours, theirs,

some of the worst

or is it? selfishly partly

mind yourself

happiness in misery

depression in laughter

there are so many sides

yin yang plus minus

try to keep a balance

life, the best or the worst

still undecided


By Jelle Wassenaar, Issues Without Borders Members, volunteer in a refugee camp


Proposed by

on 21 July 2017

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